Tuesday, November 07, 2006


What's Special?

Layla wrote "I know God is trying to tell me something through your recent posts...I can sense that. I believe He participates in my life - and I want Him to, but ... I don't know. It seems like He's just not there anymore. I am growing weary wanting some sort of FEELING that God is there. I believe the facts. I just want what you seem to have - a living relationship with Him, experiencing His presence in every aspect of your life."

I'm bringing this up because other people have made similar comments to me, and the implied questions have itched at me for three years. Why does God treat me so well?

I asked him that one time. The answer seemed to have to do with need. Can it really be that simple? If God doesn't walk with me I'm dead because I have no other motivation. I have never cared much for what motivates other people: popularity, fancy cars, a house, a career that others would envy, being well known.

My name is known in most of the world for sand sculpture. That and about two dollars will get me a cup of coffee. I get no jobs because my sculptures are unique and I'm unwilling to bend on this issue.

This is fine with me. All I've ever really wanted is to be left alone. My ideal would be to have a cabin in the middle of nowhere, or perhaps as I mentioned in my previous post, an airplane that never needs to land. Let me fly off into the unknown. Better yet, a starship that could take me anyplace out there nearly instantly.

That, of course, isn't going to happen. Even the cabin in the woods requires some external support, and it has to be purchased and maintained. It seems that land and house prices go up just a little bit faster than my income, which precludes the initial purchase, and then once I'm there how do I make the payments?

So, I'm left in Los Angeles, of all places. Surrounded by people I can still be largely anonymous. But for the constant irritation of a big city's noise it's about the best place for being left alone.

God, however, didn't leave me alone. He arranged events so that I'd land here, looking west with noplace farther to go. I see his handprints all over my life, starting when I was young. Maybe it's because I closed the door but didn't lock it. I didn't believe in a personal God, but I didn't have enough evidence to make the statement that there is no God. A part of me wanted something more so I kept the files open. New data were scarce, but navigating by feel I found a few.

Photography, writing, sand sculpture were all things that would engage my heart without me really knowing about it. It was a strange dichotomous life: two people living in the same body but if they ever communicated very clearly the result was about like mixing water and potassium: sparks, steam and heat. I learned to keep the membrane inviolate.

It wasn't much of a life, and it was heading toward final collapse when God moved a few more events. In the middle of it I was having dinner with a friend at a Thai restaurant. I opened my fortune cookie and found "Be prepared for the truth." We looked at that and broke up because it so suited the whole weekend. I thought I was prepared for the truth.

I wasn't. But by the time I knew what was coming, I was hooked. No option but to go forward. Desperation makes for strong motivation. I wanted to just give it up, but something about Jesus kept attracting me, even through the internal hell of crossing the boundaries.

God loves me no more than he loves anyone else. Perhaps his closeness now has to do with my destitution. It could also be due to the way he made me; I've always been sensitive, and I see details that others miss. I also have the ability to associate those details with others and build a model. I have the intellect to hold these ideas in abeyance until more evidence comes in, the creativity to assemble new ideas or reject those that don't work. I don't take credit for any of that. God made me the way I am, and all I've done is, for all of my life, try to find a way of life that uses what I have.

Jesus does say you have to give up everything in order to follow him. "Everything" includes all those buried desperation moments you have in your heart, the ones you don't want to see because they cause so much hopeless pain. That I'm still here doesn't mean I'm special. What it really means is that God is honorable.

My life is also colored by the fact that it has been pretty easy. I've not had major health problems, nor huge debts, nor disastrously failed relationships. I don't have a family to struggle to maintain, no chronically ill children to maintain. There is no purpose for my life other than following Jesus to find out where we end up. That my life hasn't been worth living is mainly due to my own mishandling of things. I've deliberately guided myself in unchallenging ways to make sure I wouldn't run into life-ending problems. I've ended up where I am, in a decent job and a place to live, more by God's guidance than my own.

So, finally, if I had to take a flying guess at how a person who doesn't hear God's voice should best approach the idea, I'd say be prepared to spend some time with God. Turn off the TV and turn off your expectations. No relationship runs on rules. I'm convinced that while it may take some time, if you keep after asking the Holy Spirit to make you sensitive he will do so.

Just be prepared to face the danger. Asking for God's presence in your life really is a dangerous request. It harks back to the old fairytales: the person asking receives that which he asks for... but loses something dreadful. In this case what you lose is the confidence you have in your current way of life.

Remember, too, that there's a problem with the filled-cup model that Layla quoted in one of her Blog posts. "This cup represents all I know, and the second cup represents all you know. If you want to fill your cup with my knowledge, you must first empty your cup of your knowledge." The problem is that any real teaching builds on what you already know. The Holy Spirit solves the space problem quite simply: He helps your cup grow bigger.


Thanks so much. This whole post was great, especially:

Jesus does say you have to give up everything in order to follow him. "Everything" includes all those buried desperation moments you have in your heart, the ones you don't want to see because they cause so much hopeless pain. That I'm still here doesn't mean I'm special. What it really means is that God is honorable.

I've been reading your archived stories, etc. and am surprised at how much we are alike. If I had your email I'd share a few things that are similar but don't really want to put it out here.

mine is
if you want to write.
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